Will Elon Musk Become this Generation’s Thomas Edison?

Is Elon Musk on the verge of becoming this generation’s Thomas Edison with the introduction of the 800 mph Hyperloop transportation system?

It is both easy and premature to draw comparisons to Edison, Nikola Tesla, Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Each one of those men had a profound impact on society, industry or technology. At 41 years young, Musk’s impact and ascension are just beginning.

“You want to have a future where you’re expecting things to be better, not one where you’re expecting things to be worse.”

The resume is impressive. Co-founder of PayPal. Co-founder and Chairman of SolarCity. Co-founder, CEO and Product Architect for Tesla. CEO, CTO and Chief Designer at SpaceX. It is even more impressive when you consider he is actively involved in each company with the exception of PayPal.

But his success could have easily become failure.

Against the odds, Tesla teetered on the edge of bankruptcy as Musk reimagined and reinvented the automobile industry with the electric Roadster and Model S sedan. Just recently his success was celebrated when Consumer Reports called it the best vehicle they ever tested.

“Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”

Simultaneously, Musk faced similar financial problems with SpaceX as he built a private aerospace company from the ground up. He would make history in 2012 as SpaceX became the world’s first privately held company to send a payload to the International Space Station.

Skeptics have, and continue, to doubt him but Musk presses on. Tesla and Solar City represent a future of clean, renewable energy and SpaceX may represent our best opportunity to colonize Mars.

And the Hyperloop? Well it represents our best opportunity to better connect our cities and a new mode of transport – a fifth mode after planes, trains, cars and boats. Perhaps the technology is just a bridge until we develop a much more sophisticated rapid transport.

Musk has said he is too focused on other projects to consider actually building the Hyperloop and instead published an open-source design that anyone can use or modify. His tweet almost suggests he thought it up last night.

 “I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.”

Musk’s appetite for success all but insures his name will be mentioned among the world’s greatest inventors in a few years’ time. But the success of these companies may not be Musk’s greatest achievement – rather he has renewed our will to dream, invent and reach for the stars.


After Much Hype, Elon Musk Unveils His High-Speed ‘Hyperloop’

Can Elon Musk’s Design Fiction Do Real Good For Innovation?

Explaining the Hyperloop, in Basic Terms

Hyperloop Physics Questions and Answers

A Closer Look At Elon Musk’s Much-Hyped Hyperloop

VP Digital & Social, GMR Marketing
  1. In a way yes, on the whole – no.

    Edison was a brilliant business man, but not exactly the best guy in terms of ethics, it’s difficult to compare the two side by side.

    (Edison Vs. Tesla. NOTE: Clicking may result in laughter)

    In his time Edison was more the inventor and a patent magnate.

    Musk is a businessman & open source peddling entrepreneur.

    So, given those points I think Musk transcends Edison in that Musk has a laser-like focus that is able to pick the best ideas and make them really helpful & really profitable. Quality over quantity.

    Take Musk’s consistenty: building a company that creates solutions. He creates the change he wants to see in the world. This is a far cry from the ethics of Edison or patent trolling contemporary, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

    Zuckerberg is a “me too” mind, still running a borrowed idea and making it an empire not unlike Edison would have done. E.g. His internet.org idea is laughably ego-centric and scant on details.

    Musk is a “me first” mind. He makes great things and moves on. He’s more akin to a John Paul DeJoria or Richard Branson, but instead of naming a company about himself or patenting something that really changes the needle, he simply makes the best product or if he can’t he, like Tesla – publishes the idea for free. Musk has always been like this, according to wikipedia Musk taught himself computer programming and at age 12 sold the computer code for a video game called Blastar for $500. Rock on.

    Elon Musk is a modern day Superhero and history will remember him in a league of his own.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More Stories
Henry Ogrodzinski and Paul Poberezny in Red 1 at EAA AirVenture 2013.
Remembering Henry Ogrodzinski